Friday, September 20, 2013

Rape is as rape does, Part 2: Lady Rapist 101

So, how does that even work? Men are bigger and stronger than women, on average. Physically, they generally have the upper hand. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but there are certain anatomical realities to penis-in-vagina sex that require the cooperation, and, presumably, the consent of the male. Right?

I'll be the first to admit right here, that, as of three years ago, that's what I thought. Men can't be raped-- at least, forced to engage in vaginal sex-- because the lack of an erection would protect them. Ladies (and some gents), this is just not true, and is as scurrilous a lie as the claim that because a woman lubricates or even orgasms during a rape, she enjoyed it or consented. For some men, their body betrays them; they get erections from physical stimulation despite not wanting and clearly not consenting to sex.  For others, the erection is a fear reaction. Regardless, a physical reaction does not equal consent. Not for women. Not for men.

Men can be coerced into sex due to non-physical leverage, as well. It doesn't take brute strength for a female boss, teacher, landlady, or other authority figure to put a man in a position where he feels his job or home or grade is at stake. And let's not even get into the gross double standard shown to teenage boys "seduced" by older women, versus similar age girls "preyed on" by older men.  

And there's always the old favorite, booze (or other drugs). Our society is hellbent on making sure everyone knows drunk girls aren't "fair game;" that drunk women can't consent; that if you, as a woman, can't remember what happened to you last night, you should err on the side of caution and assume you were raped, even if you weren't even sure you had sex. Leaving aside (for the moment) the infantilizing implication that adult women are incapable of judging when and how much to drink or with whom to drink it, incapable of asserting themselves if and when they don't want to drink, and have zero control or responsibility for their actions after drinking, an extremely drunk or passed out man is often considered fair game. Again, it doesn't take an Amazon to overpower an unconscious guy. I've lost count of the number of guys who have privately related stories of waking up to a strange girl on top of them, engaging in sex they never consented to and definitely did not want.

But how often does this actually happen? More often than you think.

50% of homeless youth reported being sexually abused by a female, according to a 2008 study of sexually exploited youth in British Columbia, Canada.

Here in the United States:
Among inmates reporting staff sexual misconduct, ~ 65% reported a female aggressor.

Female inmates in prison (4.7%) or jail (3.1%) were more than twice as likely as male inmates in prison (1.9%) or jail (1.3%) to report experiencing inmate- on- inmate sexual victimization.

Sexual activity with facility staff was reported by 2.9% of male prisoners and 2.1% of male jail inmates, compared to 2.1% of female prisoners and 1.5% of female jail inmates.
-From "Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2008-09"
And worse, 95% of sexually abused youth in correctional facilities reported being abused by female staff, according to ”Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09”.

And what about college campuses, those hotbeds of rape culture where one in four women will be raped?
Almost 3% of men reported forced sex and 22% reported verbal coercion in a romantic relationship in the last year. Almost 2.3% of women reported forced sex and 25% reported verbal coercion.
-From Predictors of Sexual Coercion Against Women and Men: A Multilevel, Multinational Study of University Students”
According to that last study, men are more likely to be raped than women.

Except that we don't call it rape.

Next up: "Other Sexual Violence" a.k.a. "Not Rape"